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CAUT Bulletin Archives

February 2003

U.S. Government Shuts Down Indexing Service

The United States Department of Energy has shut down PubScience, a popular Internet site that provided users with a free search of citations and abstracts in more than 1,000 peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The decision to close the site came after growing pressure from private sector providers who complained it was competing with their commercial services.

The American Library Association strongly condemned the decision to end PubScience, arguing the service, recognized as one of the best 100 scientific and technological accomplishments of the Department of Energy, allowed researchers to tap into a vast body of information published in scientific journals at no cost.

Since 2000, lobbyists from two private sector indexes — Scirus and Infotrieve — have targeted PubScience, arguing it competed with their services. Because both Scirus and Infotrieve currently provide free searching, the Department of Energy agreed that PubScience was duplicating these services.

However, the ALA is concerned that with the demise of PubScience, Scirus and Infotrieve could change to a fee-based subscription service at any time, meaning commercial companies will control access to and charge fees for information and research largely funded with public money.

The decision is also worrying small publishers.

Stephen Miles Sacks, editor and publisher of Scipolicy: The Journal of Science and Health Policy, said he opposes the elimination of PubScience, noting that abstracts from his publication are compiled by neither Scirus nor Infotrieve.

“This action is ill-advised and anti-small science research,” Sacks told the Chronicle of Higher Education.